Buena Park Art Show hosts awards ceremony

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By Jospeh Campos

The time has finally come for the Buena Park Cultural And Fine Arts Commission to hand out the rewards and ribbons for some of Orange County’s most promising artistic creativity. Many local SoCal residents came down into the Buena Park City Hall to celebrate these high schooler’s many talents. This year’s participants were mostly alumni from the Buena Park High School Coyotes and the Sunny Hills High School Lancers.

By Jospeh Campos

The time has finally come for the Buena Park Cultural And Fine Arts Commission to hand out the rewards and ribbons for some of Orange County’s most promising artistic creativity. Many local SoCal residents came down into the Buena Park City Hall to celebrate these high schooler’s many talents. This year’s participants were mostly alumni from the Buena Park High School Coyotes and the Sunny Hills High School Lancers.

With 85 art pieces on display for the community to admire, Maya Mackrandilal, who is the Buena Park City Hall’s Fine Arts Coordinator opened up the awards ceremony with the following inspirational statement. “A teacher once shared this wisdom with me when I was just a child and now I am going to share it with you. Once you are an artist, you will always be an artist. We gather here today not only to celebrate the accomplishments of the winners of this contest, but also to celebrate the participants who had the courage to share a part of themselves with us by displaying their art pieces.”

Local politicians and community leaders came out to show their support for the teenagers such as former Buena Park Mayor, Art Brown and current Buena Park Mayor, Elizabeth Swift. Buena Park High School Principal Jim Coombs and Sunny Hills High School Principal, Allen Whitten were also on hand to support their fellow student body members. Members of each school’s art department were also there to see their star pupils and young apprentices in action.
“I used to be a high school teacher,” said Mayor Swift when she took the podium. “I must say, I never get any more excitement out of life, then when I work with our youth. I used to work for the Fullerton Department of Education and worked at Buena Park High School for 15 years after that. I was never an artist, but I was always inspired by it.” Mayor Swift specialized in economics while teaching at Buena Park High School. “I recently entered into an,  ‘Aging as Art Contest,’ and entered a photograph that I took of my mother on her 103rd birthday while she blew out her birthday candles,” explained Mayor Swift. “I was one of the winners of the contest and now my photograph has been hung up in ‘The Bowers Museum,’ in Santa Ana, California. So, now I can actually say that I am an artist and I am so happy to share in this experience of being a true artist with each and all of you.”

This artistic journey that both Mackrandilal and Swift speak about reigns true for many of the individual struggles and experiences of the participating young artists.  The story of contest winner Jaime Park representing the ‘Mixed Media Division,’ of the ceremony is one of trials, tribulations and triumph. “I started exploring my love of drawing when I was just a child,” explained Park. “My teachers would always say that I enjoyed my artwork, more than my actual school work. This revelation would help inspire me to go on to take actual lessons when I started the 3rd grade at The Art House in Fullerton, California.”

It was within these art studio classes that Park would learn to expand and hone her artistic capabilities. “My professor, Cherene Raphael at The Art House and my other art professor, Brian Wall from Sunny Hills High School, taught me how to incorporate a lot of color and how to master black and white pencil with my work. I like to mix the two styles to get a messy look, with a lonely solemn hue. This is exactly what I incorporated with my piece in this art show, which I titled, ‘Transcend.’ It utilizes a lot of escapism as it shows a beautiful woman wearing colorful clothing jumping out of a sad, lonely and dull backdrop. She appears as if she is breaking out of that dimension, and is leaping into ours. This is why I decided to name it ‘Transcend,’ she is transcending from another world into our very own.”

Park mentions that she utilizes her art as a form of escapism for her as well, and that she uses it to help cope with the stresses and anxieties of school life and coming of age. “My dream is to become a dermatologist or a neurosurgeon. I want to help people. Still, I continue to draw, and enter in these contests not only as a hobby, but to honor my grandfather’s memory.” Jaime’s Grandfather’s name is John Park. He too, was an artist like her who created beautiful oil paintings, and won art competitions. “Long ago, my grandfather fought to escape communist North Korea,” the country was ran by Kim Jong-il at the time. “He would later escape to America where he became a Christian pastor and built Miracle Land Church in Cypress, California. His story is very important to me because one of the last art projects that both he and I were going to work on together was a portrait that he was going to paint of me. Unfortunately, he passed away before we could complete it. This is why I still do my art work and try to win these contests.” Jaime feels a sense of redemption and closure by honoring her grandfather in this way.

Another brilliant art contest winner was Sophia Jang, a sophomore from Sunny Hills High School. She started doing art as a child. It was just a hobby for her until she entered the 7th grade. “I began taking actual classes for it at this time,” says Jang. “I saw that I truly had skills and decided to delve deeper into it.” Jang is very general when it comes to the inspirations behind her work. It is all part of a particular thought process. “Everything just starts out as concepts hidden deep within my mind. I just explore my own imagination and examine a lot of self-reflection of my past. I think that I just like to see everything from a more philosophical approach.”

Jang’s dream is to become a bio-medical engineer, but still plans to utilize all of her art skills in her chosen profession. “I think that the concepts of art can be applied several ways within the area of engineering, especially with all of the knowledge that I gained from also attending The Art House in Fullerton with Ms. Raphael and from the added skills that I learned from Mr. Wall over at Sunny Hills High School.”

When asked about her biggest artistic influences Jang replied, “I like to learn a lot from the artist, Andrew Salgado’s art form.  He has a brilliant style.  He, just like me, enjoys creating portraits that are really interesting, and unique. They inspired me so much so that I am currently working on a series of three whole portraits. My specific art style is abstract, so I am going to use a lot of water color for this project and focus on interesting faces and how they change.”

Jang left the next generation of Orange County artists with one last pearl of wisdom, “as long as you enjoy art with all of your heart, just keep on doing it. Never give up on any of your dreams. Self-expression is what it is all about and chasing after that dream that you have inside you.  Don’t just sit there and let yourself flat-line.” With great cultural leaders like Park and Jang paving the way, the future of Southern California’s artistic expression is in good hands.

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